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State can't grow trees as it has no plastic bags!

The chief secretary's elaborate plan of planting 100 crore saplings to expand the tree cover in the state faces hiccups due to a shortage of enough polythene bags

Who would have thought they would need the ecological bugbear that greens love to hate -- the much-maligned polythene bag -- to enhance the environment!


Sprouting trouble: The forest department has been entrusted with
planting 16 crore saplings, while rural, agriculture and horticulture
departments have been assigned to plant 84 crore saplings but a dearth
of quality plastic bags is holding up the task


Months after chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad approved the ambitious scheme to plant 100 crore saplings by March 2013 to enhance the dwindling forest cover across the state, the scheme has come up against a hitch owing to the shortage of polythene bags in the state. Announced in October last year, the plantation began over the last two months, but now, lack of enough bags to hold the plantlets has rendered growing a higher number of saplings practically impossible.

The forest department has been entrusted with planting 16 crore saplings, while rural, agriculture and horticulture departments have been assigned to plant 84 crore saplings.

Speaking to MiD DAY, R K Pole, chief conservator forests (CCF), Thane, said, "As far as the nursery work is concerned, we are doing enough to plant as many samplings as we can. But there is a shortage of polythene bags due to which the project is getting delayed. However, we will tackle the situation."

A senior forest officer from Thane revealed on the condition of anonymity that lower quality polythene bags are now being used for planting the saplings. "Shortage of polythene bags is causing trouble for forest officers as it is affecting the scheme's productivity," said the officer.

Reverberating Pole's sentiments, Nitin K, CCF Pune, said, "Pune and Solapur are given the target of 1.5 crore trees for this year. As of now, we have 70 nurseries in place and are soon going to come up with more, under the surveillance of forest guards. We are finalising more places. The lack of polythene bags was an issue, but we have solved it," he said.

A source from the forest department said, "Though the chief secretary has announced the plantation of 100 crore saplings, it is practically tough to implement, as space and material are not available easily," said the source.

Did you know?
>> In the state, the tree cover makes up for 3.08% of the total area. In other words, only 9,466 sq km of the 3,07,713 sq km of the land has trees.

>> As per the India State of Forests report, 2009, the total tree cover makes up for 16% of the forest cover of 60,116 sq km in the country.

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